What Property Management Can Teach Us about Interpersonal Communication
Effective communication skills are necessary for successful businesses, projects, etc. At the same time, such engagements also present opportunities for developing and sharpening communication skills.
One field that exemplifies the need for such skills is real estate, and specifically, property management.
The Interactive Nature of Property Management
Property management includes various tasks, including:
finding prospective tenants;
accepting rent payments and security deposits;
solving issues/complaints of tenants; and
Each one of the activities requires – to some degree – the interaction between two or more people.
In the context of these interactions, effective communication can mean the difference between (a) clear, mutual understanding and (b) frustrating confusion.
Communication and Its Many Components
Communication is not a singular skill; rather, it includes a vast range of sub-skills and personal qualities that form an overall ability to articulate ideas, needs, and solutions.
Such skills – among others – include:
understanding how to work in teams;
being mindful of your tone and body language.
Developing and sharpening communication is a lifelong journey, especially in a world of over seven billion people with rapidly changing technologies (like social media).
Communication in Real Estate and Property Management
Different professions and work modes may emphasize the need for different communication skills, for example:
A salesperson may place a greater emphasis on persuasion, enthusiasm, body language and eye contact; and
Someone who works from home may have to emphasize clarity when communicating via email—as well as tone of voice during phone calls with clients
In any case, property management requires—as well as provides opportunities for—developing effective communication.
Essential Communication Skills for Property Management
In the TEDTalk, “The Power of Questions,” leadership consultant Steve Aguirre shows that questions hold many promises—inclusive of opening doors to possibilities, building bridges, and inspiring action.
For property managers, asking questions can resolve issues expressed by a tenant. For example, a tenant may request a two-bedroom unit; but, you have a waiting list. Alternatives can be proposed by asking questions, such as “What will you be using the second bedroom for?” If the answer is for a home office or craft room, then perhaps you could suggest the otherwise less popular (and available) layouts: (a) one bedroom plus a loft or (b) one bedroom plus a den.
Grounded in listening, empathy occurs when someone’s experiences and feelings are absorbed by another person and chiseled “deeply into their skin.” Tenants’ moving-related emotional experiences—like feeling anxious—can be addressed and mitigated by spending some extra time listening to their stories and concerns.
For example, perhaps you will uncover that their anxiety is related to making friends in a new town, at which time you tell them about the property’s monthly potluck or weekly yoga class. In this way, they can begin meeting people within their complex.
In property management, tenants can get frustrated with their neighbors; employees may have disagreements. Conflict management skills become important in these contexts.
For instance, maintenance staff often have the most interactions with tenants. Such interactions typically take place when things go wrong and the tenant is already frustrated with a toilet that runs all night, a dripping faucet, or a faulty light switch. While technical expertise is clearly a top skill for a maintenance engineer, having one who has (or is willing to learn) conflict management skills is like hitting the jackpot! If they can diffuse an angry tenant, it can avoid the complaint being elevated to management. This may make the difference in whether that tenant renews next year or moves on to another building.
Accordingly, as stated in Forbes, better conflict management skills—for example, cultivating an environment that embraces feedback—can translate conflict into positive outcomes and sustain a business’s forward progression.
What We Can Learn From Years in the Business
A lifetime in the real estate industry offers diverse opportunities for growth. Open-mindedness and creative problem-solving are a couple of such opportunities.
An event, perspective, or value that may seem trivial to one person may be a “game changer” for another. Openness to others’ experiences cultivates better listening, better problem-solving, and might just change a person’s view of the world!
Creative Problem Solving
Real estate—buying, selling, management, etc.—is dynamic. “Never saw that coming!” is a thought that frequently comes to mind when various challenges arise.
While some challenges may prove more difficult than others, persistent resourcefulness, creativity, and decisiveness can help with the process of forging solutions.
Defining Your Needs, Developing Your Skills, and Navigating Your Journey
When building better communication skills, self-reflection and self-awareness are critical for identifying areas of improvement. From there, integrating specific skills—empathy, open-mindedness, and problem-solving, etc.—can broaden and strengthen the ability to interact, articulate, and connect.
In this way, we can forge clear pathways through which to move forward in our personal, educational, and professional lives.